tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 24, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
on the broadcast tonight -- a question of torture. the obama justice department will investigate charges of prisoner abuse during the bush administration. serious health threats. some staggering predictions from the government tonight about what could be a major swine flu outbreak. wept away. a rogue wave along the storm-tossed coast of maine takes a terrible toll.
and vineyard haven. the remarkable story behind the president's island getaway. also tonight, late word on the cause of death in the michael jackson case. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. it started as a colossal attack on this country eight years ago and what followed was called the war on terror. tonight, new documents have been released showing what happened during the worst of the interrogations, what happened to some suspected terrorists in american custody. they are cia documents and things won't be the same at the cia after this. the obama administration will investigate some of the practices of the bush administration. two of our best have been reading through these documents in the hours since their release. our justice correspondent pete williams, our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea
mitchell, both in our washington newsroom. pete, we'll start with you. how big is this? >> i think it's big in two ways. first the, a prosecutor will look into how detainees were treated in the days after 9/11. and secondly, this gives the fbi the starring role in future interrogations under white house direction, brian. >> out here chiefly, a break from the past within the government. >> brian, it is the clearest break yesterday from the bush white house, by putting the fbi in charge of detaining and interrogating pete suspects, as pete says, the obama administration is essentially removing the cia from its central role. this as a newly declassified cia report outlines a litany abuses that cross the line into illegal torture. for the first time, the cia report released today details threats against prisoners' family, sexual humiliation, mock executions, a litany abuses of cia interrogators at secret presidentens overseas. example -- the suspect in the
bombing of "the uss cole," was stripped naked, hooded and handcuffed and threatened with a handgun and a power drill. he was also told, we can get your mother in here, implying sexual abuse against her. along with threats against other family members. the interrogator denied making those threats. the report says 9/11 master mind khalid shaikh mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. beyond what had been approved by then attorney general john ashcroft. the cia said ashcroft subsequently approved the repetitions. and they were told if anything else happens in the united states, we are going to kill your children. >> it's a violation of american law, and whoever did it should be prosecuted. whoever authorized it, should be prosecuted as well. if in fact that's what happened. >> reporter: civil liberties groups have been battling cia censorship in court for years to find out who ordered the program. >> was it the cia itself? who in the cia and/or was it somebody outside the cia? was it political officials
outside the cia who were the energy behind the programs? >> reporter: the strongest defender of the program, former vice president dick cheney, who said last may today's report would vindicate his decisions. >> i believe this information will confirm the value of interrogation of detainees, and i am not alone. >> reporter: on that point, this report is not that definitive. it says, there is no doubt the program has been effective, but adds, measuring the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques is a more subjective process and not without some concern. but tonight the cia released separate memos. these memos actuating these requests, indicating that the interrogation $prevent other attacks. still, the obama white house said the program violated laws against torture and cannot be tolerated. brian? >> and these changes a lot. we are learning about a lot. we will continue to over the hours to come as we read through all of this shed light on new information, but there's still so much we don't know, including in these documents. >> that's right. because ar ig holder says he
wants a career prosecutor to look at the allegations in andrea's report, and a few other that's are still classify thad are said to be even worse. ten in all or interrogators appeared to go well beyond the law of what they were authorized to do. we don't know all because 48 reports of 109 pages are all or mostly blacked out. it now seems clear that eric holder will not call for an investigation, by the way, in three other cat goreries. the cia operatives who did follow the rules, the bush administration who came up with this enhanced interrogation program, and the justice department lawyers who approved it, brian. >> andrea, of course, potentially huge damage to legacy. legacy of the united states overseas, legacy of the bush administration from the former president on down. >> absolutely. this has been the argument that colin powell and very late to the game condoleezza rice made even, that this really hurts the united states. it puts our military in jeopardy and our diplomats in jeopardy, and our reputation for not violating treaties against
torture. >> andrea mitchell, pete williams, as we continue to go through these new documents, both with us from our washington newsroom tonight to start us off. thanks to you both. now we turn to a big health news story. a u.s. government prediction today about how bad the swine flu outbreak might still become. they say a big percentage of the u.s. population is at risk and in some cases, the disease is expected to pose a fatal threat. we get details from our chief science correspondent robert bazell, who is tonight at the centers for disease control in atlanta. >> reporter: a committee of scientists that advises the president said that while the swine flu pandemic is impossible to predict, a plausible scenario with the infection of 30% to 50% of the u.s. population, as many as 1.8 million hospital admissions and 30,000 to 90,000 deaths concentrated among children and young adults. speaking today at the centers for disease control, aging
secretary sebelius said she's concerned about certain polls showing americans are not terribly worried about swine flu. >> we know that right now that there's a lot of complacency. now the continuum of being paralyzed with fear and complacency, we've got to strike a balance. >> reporter: data gathered by the cdd show that's even now, wait outside of normal flu season, people are continuing to get infected throughout the country. 37 children have died already from the new virus, and as schools open, the director of the cdc said there is a good chance things will get far worse. >> in the next few weeks and months will be a very challenging time. >> in about 52,000 doses -- >> reporter: hospitals, schools and colleges like emory university are preparing. >> having students living together on campus, they're sharing a lot of the same bedding and a lot of the same information and a lot of the same cups. and we're trying to get them to
make sure that they are not spreading the germs any more than possible. >> reporter: but for students, the worry is not so great. >> priorities, first off, is definitely relationships and girlfriends because, you know, we're in college. and then after that it's books, how to save money, what's the best place to eat on campus? and who's got the best dorm rooms? and i guess for swine flu, probably a little bit farther down the list because that's just not what's on our minds right now. >> reporter: but as the scenario laid out by the president's advisers is even close, it will be on everybody's mind very soon. as for a vaccine, if clinical trials continue to go well, there will be small amounts of vaccine available in october. but it could be thanksgiving or way beyond before there's enough vaccine for everybody in the country. brian? >> robert bazell at the cdc meeting in atlanta tonight. bob, thanks. we wanted to let you know bob will be back on this broadcast tomorrow night to try to answer some questions about swine flu. you can send us your questions by posting them on our website. that's nightly.msnbc.com.
there is great sadness tonight along the coast of maine for a 7-year-old girl who was swept into the sea and drowned yesterday by a rogue wave. part of the powerful and dangerous surf that was kicked up all along the east coast, all the way to canada, by the remnants of hurricane bill. this happened in maine's acadia national park at bar harbor. our own michelle franzen is there tonight. michelle, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. this jagged, granite coastline can be both captivating and deceiving. it can turn deadly in an instant, as it did yesterday. >> i need everybody to start moving back to the road line please. >> reporter: rangers at acadia national park kept visitors at a safe distance a day after violent waves swept spectators off a ridge. >> you know, if we don't get the most spectacular view in the world, it's okay. we're safe. >> reporter: along maine's rugged outer coast, tourists and locals are drawn to the beauty of the ocean.
>> there's hiking and there's the park and i love it. >> reporter: especially at the thunder hole, named for the sound of the waves pounding against the steep granite crevice and rocks. on sunday, thunder hole was closed because of unusually high swells fueled by hurricane bill, but the rest of the jagged coast was open to the public, including one ridge where a group of people had gathered to watch the surf. >> we're about 25 or 30 feet at least above water. >> reporter: chief park ranger stuart wept said a powerful rogue wave came crashing over the ridge, sweeping seven people into the chilly waters. four made it to the shoreline on their own but three others were carried out into the churning waters. >> yesterday was like driving a boat in a walking machine. >> reporter: a coast guard lifeboat located a missing 12-year-old first, and then 55-year-old peter axelrod of new york. but when they reached axelrod's 7-year-old daughter cleo, paramedic says she showed no vital signs. west said a full staff of seven
rangers were responsible for the safety of an estimated 10,000 spectators who lined the rocky coast that day, a balancing act of public safety and personal responsibility. >> all we can do is try to educate the public as much as we possibly can to let them know to stay away from the ocean's edge. >> reporter: and tonight the father of the girl who died is reportedly still in the hospital. brian? >> michelle franzen up in bar harbor for us tonight. michelle, thanks. not far from here at ground zero here in new york, a relic, a monument to the 9/11 attacks has returned to the site. you may remember the dramatic pictures the day they carried away the final steel column from that wreckage and the pit. it was one of 47 columns that originally held up the south tower. it became a makeshift memorial to the police officers and firefighters who died. today it came back. they will build the 9/11 memorial museum around it in effect, at 58 tons, standing 36 feet high, it will be a very
visible and dramatic reminder of the act of terror that took 2,751 lives on that very spot. when we continue on a summer monday night, the late ruling from the west coast on what caused the death of michael jackson. and later, the history beneath their feet. the first family and their choice of a summer vacation spot. grandma, take me there. but with my occasional irregularity i wasn't always up to it. until i discovered activia and everything started to change. announcer: activia is clinically proven to help regulate your digestive system in two weeks when eaten every day. now i enjoy every minute. my grandkids are happy, and so am i. ♪ activia gathering dust, as pollen floats through the air. but with the strength of zyrtec ® , the fastest, 24-hour allergy relief, i promise not to wait as long to go for our ride.
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inner city problems, it's $95 million in federal education stimulus money will be more than a help to its school system of 193 schools, almost 6,000 teachers and 82,000 students. >> it's been a lifesaver. >> reporter: school's ceo dr. andreas alonzo said it's filling a $30 million budget gap, and saved programs like summer school classes for 20,000 students. >> it's allowed us to save hundreds of jobs that we would have lost if the money had not been available. >> reporter: the federal government's $100 billion stimulus for schools is its largest one-time investment in education ever. some of the money intended to make up shortfalls in state's education budgets. >> every dollars states spend much help to improve the learning of our children here and around the country. >> reporter: the challenge for baltimore and school systems nationwide is that the stimulus money is just a temporary boost.
the federal government wants school administrators to spend the money on things that lead to long-term improvements in student performance, but don't disappear when the money does. in baltimore, that means investments for the future, such as $8 million for 37 new classrooms this year, to expand pre-k to include 800 more children. >> we have never been able to encompass all of the eligible low-income kids in pre-k classes. we're going to be able to do that now. >> reporter: school budget officials say the vast majority of school systems report the stimulus money hasn't even prevented all of the cuts. in california, which has expended $3 billion in stimulus money, almost 10% of the state's schools are still at risk of bankruptcy. since the spring, third grade teacher lazette has been laid off and rehired twice. >> there are some teachers who just were never called back at home, not given that opportunity. >> reporter: by october states
have to report how they spent their school stimulus, how many jobs and programmed saved, how many smart new investments made, and show how much the stimulus money is a band-aid and how much is part of a real recovery for the nation's schools. rehema ellis, nbc news, baltimore. the american heart association is out with a new warning tonight on the amount of sugar we consume on average in this country every day. most americans, they say, take in about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. much of that comes from drinking soda, eating candy. but that is far more than what's recommended. they tell us women should have no more than six teaspoons of added sugar a day, nine for men. tougher thing is following those regulations. when "nightly news" continues in a moment, the late word from the west coast. a ruling in the death of michael jackson. my health is important to me. it's critical that i stick to my medication. i cannot be one of the 61 million americans
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we mentioned this earlier, there's late word tonight that the l.a. county coroner has ruled michael jackson's death a homicide, and the last person to see him alive, his doctor, may face manslaughter charges. court documents released today also revealed the cause of death. our report tonight from nbc's chris jansing. >> reporter: two months after michael jackson's shocking death, a 32-page search warrant and affidavit confirms for the first time what killed the 50-year-old superstar. it reads, "toxicology analysis showed that michael jackson had lethal levels of propofol in his blood." pro positive follow, also known as diprivan, is a powerful anesthetic, intended for use in a hospital or doctor's office. but in jackson's case, he had reportedly been using it at home for years to battle insm nia. his personal physician, dr. conrad murray, has repeatedly
denied any responsibility. >> i told the truth, and i have faith the truth will prevail. >> reporter: but the documents say dr. murray admitted giving jackson four drugs on the morning of his death to help him sleep. at 1:30 a.m., murray said jackson took ten milligrams of val you'll. a half hour later he cave gave him ativan. and then at 3:00 a.m., mother anti-anxiety drug, middzolam and when nothing else worked at 10:30, jackson was given diprivan intravenously. about two minutes later, in what was said to be a bathroom break, he found jackson not breathing. they believe jackson's death is a homicide. even though pro positive follow is not a controlled substance and it was legal for him to use. >> we are talking about acceptable medical standards that's more than what we call ordinary negligence.
it's criminal negligence. it's extreme negligence. >> reporter: late today the jackson family issued a statement commending investigators and saying they looked forward to the day justice can be served. chris jansing, nbc news, los angeles. when we come back here tonight -- a summer island's enduring appeal for the first family and for so many before them. and lower both your numbers. u've taken steps to try but how close are you to your goals? there may be more you can do. only caduet combines two proven medicines... in a single pill to significantly lower... high blood pressure and high cholesterol. in a clinical study of patients... with slightly elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, caduet helped 48% reach both goals in just 4 weeks. caduet is one of many treatment options, in addition to diet and exercise... that you can discuss with your doctor. caduet is not for everyone. it's not for people with liver problems... and women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant. to check for liver problems, you need simple blood tests. tell your doctor about any heart problems... and all other medications you are taking...
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watch closely. you won't see one of these very often. mets/phillies game yesterday. an unassisted triple play. eric bruntlett stabbed a line shot right to him. he caught the ball. stepped on second. tagged the runner. one-man team, three outs. just like that. that ended the game. that's only the second time in the storied history of baseball that that has happened. by the way, phillies beat the mets 9-7. the obama family vacation is under way. it already featured golf and tennis. and today we also learned the president's reading list. the white house says he brought along the following books to read on vacation -- tom friedman's "hot, flat and crowded." david mccullough's "great john
adams." "lush life" by richard price. last two books are "plainsong" and "the way home." when you add it all up, that's 2,300 pages of reading. but then again, he has 10 days of vacation. they are vacationing on martha's vineyard. an island off massachusetts that is also a collection of neighborhoods and towns and harbors and hamlets, including one spot that represents a good deal of african-american history. our report tonight from nbc's ron allen. >> hi, president obama! >> reporter: when prsh played golf today, he chose a course on the island called oak bluff. a community that's especially proud, and not surprised the first family chose to vacation here. >> we see him as one of us, and it's nice to know that he sees us as part of him. >> reporter: this is the polar bear club, mostly african-americans, who swim and
exercise every summer morning at a beach called the ink well, a ritual dating back more than 60 years. ink well is so named in part because famous black writers like hughes and dorothy west found inspiration here. professor deloris elaine good is a fourth generation islander. >> 1899 my great grandmother was a chamber maid in the wesley hotel. >> reporter: many blacks who came here as servants later bought property in one of the few places they legally could. now many of those colorful, oornate cottages line oak bluff's streets. >> why we come is because of the camaraderie and the feeling of closeness to people. >> reporter: given its history and popularity is nnow with mid class african-american families, people who spend a lot of time here will tell you there's no place quite like oak bluffs anywhere else in the country. every monday after a brisk
workout, there's a pot luck breakfast on the beach. today rumors spread the obamas just might join in. >> this year i turned 80, and the president's coming to the vineyard. that's great. that's really, really great. >> reporter: the president did not come by the beach, but they still see his time on the island as part of a long, proud tradition. ron allen, nbc news, oak bluff. and that's our broadcast for this monday evening. good to be back. and thank you for being with us. my thanks to lester holt and ann curry for filling in while i took a little time off. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.